Say this for Joe Fischer, the Austin man who was left paralyzed after he broke four vertabrae in his back when he fell from a deer stand five years ago: He’s got a sense of humor. As a patient at St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital, he’s designated himself a new nickname—Robo-Joe.
The nickname refers to the ReWalk device he uses to walk, a stunning development for someone without feeling in his legs. The device, which was approved by the FDA for clinical use when Fischer started using it in December, not only gives him the opportunity to stand and walk it also helps develop bone density, muscle tone, and body control. As Austin’s Community Impact newspaper explains:
At St. David’s, Fischer is one of two patients using the ReWalk Rehabilitation system, which the hospital started implementing in December, said Dr. Juan M. Latorre, medical director of the Spinal Cord Injury and Amputee Program at St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital.
Fischer wears the motor-driven robotic ReWalk exoskeleton device over his clothes. He supports his weight using crutches and uses a wristwatch to control a computer in the device. The computer interprets his commands, the suit detects shifts in his balance and then moves his legs in a way similar to his natural gait.
Latorre said ReWalk patients have less risk of fractures and complications as well as other therapeutic benefits.
ReWalk is approved for personal use in Europe, and the FDA approved the device for the same purpose in June, according to the company’s website. Check out the video from Austin’s KEYE-TV below to see Robo-Joe and the ReWalk in action.
(ReWalk image via Argo Medical Technologies)